EDITORIAL: As Ramadan comes to a close

As Muslims mark the last days of Ramadan, it is apposite for us to reflect on the virtues emphasized during the holy month with a view to creating a society that is devoid of greed and avarice. Ramadan for Muslims is a time of reflection, abstinence, and nearness to Allah. It is a time of temperance, moderation, forgiveness and patience.

There are several virtues that Muslims are enjoined to strengthen during Ramadan. The first of this is taqwa or obedience to Allah.

Muslims are enjoined to avoid all acts of disobedience to Allah in an effort to strengthen their iman (faith). That is, all actions and practices must be done with the sole aim of seeking Allah’s pleasure or avoiding His displeasure, not because it is one’s habit or personal desire to do so, nor because one seeks fame or popularity.

Therefore, the virtues of constant prayer, supplication, abstinence and doing good deeds are emphasized. All of these require patience on the part of the believer, another important virtue.

This is because fasting restrains the soul of the believer from its base desires. It teaches self-restraint and how to cope with the vicissitudes of life. It discourages Muslims from being quick to anger or hasty and impatient in judgment, from greed and stinginess, The Trumpet gathered.

During Ramadan the believer is encouraged to give part of his wealth to the needy or less privileged. Ramadan therefore is a time for good manners, kindness, and consideration towards others. The fasting person must speak only the truth. If provoked, they should walk away from conflict. Ramadan enjoins Muslims to shun oppression, shamelessness, back-biting, falsehood, slander and the like.

The idea is to unite Muslims in kindness and generosity towards one another and towards people of other faiths. Ramadan is the month when Muslims are expected to be at their most peaceful.

They should be preoccupied only with prayers and supplication in the desire to get closer to Allah and earn His favour. Islam teaches Muslims that all these virtues are not to be discarded when Ramadan ends. They are to be part of a Muslim’s life. These virtues are not unique to Islam.

They are virtues that are extolled by every religion in the world, be it Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, etc. It is obvious, therefore that the two major religions practiced in Nigeria preach love, good neighbourliness, kindness, generosity, sacrifice for others, temperance, moderation, forgiveness, and peace.

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Sadly, Nigerians seem to ignore all these teachings. Killings on ethnic or religious grounds have continued. Nigeria ranks near the top as one of the most religious countries in the world, but it is obvious that we emphasize ritual over spirituality.

We are diligent in observing the rituals of going to the mosque or attending church. We recite all our prayers at the right times. We mouth verses from scripture after every sentence; yet ours is also one of the most corrupt countries in the world. We look for opportunities to steal from one another, to loot, to cheat.

Inter-religious hatred is rife. Even while Ramadan is still on, banditry and kidnappings continue. Public officials continue to steal from the nation’s coffers.

Nigerians live in fear for their lives. These same people never miss their prayers in the mosque or in the church. Ritual alone does not make a true believer because faith is a matter of the soul.

Unless we follow the true teachings of our religions and purify our souls, unless we become true Muslims and true Christians Nigeria will never be free of corruption.

The insecurity that is threatening to cripple our dear country will only get worse. As we head towards the general elections, let us reflect on the choices that we make. In keeping with the spirit of our faiths, let us fear God when we select the people that will lead us. Let us look to the tenets of Islam as enunciated by God.

This way we can build one nation, strong in its unity, forging ahead in togetherness and love towards a better tomorrow. As we mark the end of Ramadan, is our prayer that Allah should protect our dear Nigeria and help us to choose God-fearing leaders who have a genuine desire to serve the people.

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